Mayor Paul Soglin Reacts to Congressional Announcement of Farm Bill Deal
January 30, 2014
The farm bill agreement announced this week by the Congressional conference committee moves forward a critical piece of legislation that impacts every person in the United States. The farm bill authorizes funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps, that provides a safety net for those struggling to afford adequate food and nutrition. The bill is also responsible for many federal programs that help improve access to local food sources, mostly in the promotion of farmers’ markets and the expansion of SNAP accessibility at many markets. Many of these programs are either severely under-funded or unfunded since the passage of the short-term farm bill extension over a year ago.
While I appreciate the work the bi-partisan conference committee put into advancing this vital piece of legislation, especially with the expansion of many of the programs mentioned above, the proposal falls short in critical areas. The proposal calls for an $8 billion cut in SNAP benefits over the next ten years. These billions are not only being removed from the economy, jeopardizing national and local recovery efforts, but the money is being taken out of the pockets of those in the most need. This cut follows the recent dangerous trend by Congress to balance its budget on the backs of those who struggle to put food on their tables. It is within the most underserved communities, within our cities, where we will feel the greatest impact from these drastic cuts.
Additionally, the current farm bill proposal shifts away from direct subsidies, but does not end expensive insurance payments to mega farms. Millionaire farm owners will continue to receive millions of dollars in taxpayer money through crop insurance and other subsidies under this plan. Combined with the steep cuts to SNAP, the current agreement threatens to widen the already extensive economic gap in this country.
I would like to urge the Congressional delegation of Wisconsin and both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to restore the deep cuts to SNAP, develop income restrictions for farm subsidies and insurance programs, and move forward swiftly to fund other critical programs that increase the availability and affordability of healthy food to those in the most need.
- Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611